Anti-government protest called off to avoid clashes in Haiti

Associated Press
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti — An opposition group canceled an anti-government protest Sunday, saying it feared violent clashes with government partisans also demonstrating in Haiti’s second-largest city.
Despite the canceled march, about 100 opposition supporters went into the streets to protest President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government, with some attempting to cross police lines while about 1,000 Aristide supporters marched nearby. There were no incidents, however, as police blocked the way.
”We had reliable information that the Aristide partisans were preparing a bloodbath for us,” said Jean-Robert Lalane, coordinator of the North District Front.
Many on Sunday were disappointed with the decision.
”We should have demonstrated. We’re in the fight to get rid of Aristide. We have to accept the risks,” said Dudley Joseph, 28, a computer science teacher.
The protests reflect growing antagonism toward Aristide, some of it from former partisans such as the ”Cannibal Army” gang in west-coast Gonaves.
Followers of Amiot Metayer, leader of the ”Cannibal Army,” have been demanding Aristide’s resignation since Metayer’s bullet-riddled body was found Sept. 22. Mounting daily protests in Gonaves, Metayer’s supporters have torched government buildings and officials’ homes while also clashing with police. Six men have been killed and at least 28 injured by gunfire in the violence.